Bonhams: the advantages of buying an engagement ring at auction

Buying an engagement ring at a Bonhams auction is one of the most exciting, cost-effective and under rated ways to find the perfect ring for your proposal.

Emerald and diamond ring by Bulgari auctionned by Bonhams Lot 115

Buying an engagement ring is the start of a journey of a lifetime. And while buying at auction may not be the first idea that comes to mind, it can be one of the most enriching and fascinating ways to take that all-important first step.

Just in time to catch the Bonhams jewellery auctions on 21st and 28th April, we take a look at the advantages of buying an engagement ring at auction.  I spoke to Marina Vieira, specialist at Bonham’s jewellery department who is also a qualified gemmologist, about what couples hunting down the perfect engagement ring should look out for in this auction.

The most obvious reason to buy an engagement ring at auction is the appeal of getting engaged with a ring that is unique. Bonhams specialises in  jewels from 1700 onwards, the majority of which are one off pieces, offering an exclusivity second only to commissioning a one-of-a-kind piece from a jeweller or artist. Many of the rings are from eras before mass-produced jewellery was the norm, meaning that your engagement ring will not only be a part of history, but will have a story to tell. Bonhams experts will be on hand at every stage to advise and guide you in finding the perfect ring, offering decades of expertise and impartial advice as well as practical tips. There are few places you will find such a level of knowledge shared in the friendliest atmosphere, making a visit to a sale preview with your beloved an immersive, educational experience not to be missed.

Ruby and diamond half-hoop ring auctionned by Bonhams - Lot 1
Ruby and diamond half-hoop engagement ring to be auctioned by Bonhams in April 2021. Estimate: £ 4,000 - 6,000. Click on the image to place an advance bid. 

Moving on from the more romantic advantages of buying at auction, the second most compelling reason to bid at auction is the price. With lower overheads and expert valuations, at auction you will get the best value for money together with all the assurances offered when buying from a prestigious house such as Bonhams. I suggest you take a look at the prices of some of the big names and then look at a Bonhams auction catalogue online to appreciate the significant savings you can make. Or think of it as how much more of a ring you can buy for your budget.

And don’t think that your choice will be limited to rings from times past, the breadth and depth of what is on offer is impressive. Although each sale is different, prices range from £400 to £4,000 plus and the rings come in nearly every shape, size, variety of gemstone and period of jewellery. From gorgeous Art Deco diamond rings to edgy 1970’s British designers, the range extends well beyond the ubiquity of the run-of-the-mill diamond solitaire. With such a richness of options, Bonhams experts are able to suggest rings that go well beyond the norm to find that perfect match.  And what could be more sustainable than buying a ring that does not plunder the earth of new resources?

But don’t worry if you can’t make the 21st April sale as Bonhams jewellery department in London holds 10 to 11 sales each year. Each sale consists of some 350 lots, a third of which are suitable as engagement rings. But don’t be overwhelmed as there are few retail experiences to match in terms of expert guidance and when it comes to engagement rings, Bonhams jewellery department really knows what they are talking about. Take a look at the Bonhams catalogue online and start your wedding journey in an original and meaningful way. 


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